PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 March, 2009, 12:00am


The guitar is one of the oldest musical instruments we have. The word comes from Spanish - guitarra. But the Spanish took it from Arabic. The Arabs took it from Latin. The Romans took it from the Greeks, who called it kithara.

Archaeologists found a 3,300-year-old stone carving of a musician holding an ancient guitar. Versions of the guitar were probably played long before that.

Journey to six strings

Although the guitar has been around a long time, the modern guitar is recent. Until not long ago, guitars - sometimes called 'lutes' or 'ouds' - had four or five strings. Modern guitars almost always have six.

The first six-string guitar we know of was built in 1779. It was made in Naples, Italy. But the modern, classical guitar was developed in the 1850s in Seville, Spain.


Acoustic guitars use the box of the guitar body to amplify - make louder - the sound of the strings. The sound is simply the string moving backwards and forwards very quickly - or vibrating.

There are basically two kinds of acoustic guitar - classical and folk. Folk guitars are sometimes called steel-string guitars or flat-tops. Classical guitars use nylon strings. In the old days, they used the stretched guts of animals. Some people still say 'gut-string guitars'.


An electric guitar is simply a guitar that makes very little sound without electricity and an amplifier. On its body, underneath the strings, are pickups. The pickups turn the vibrations of the string into an electric signal. The electric signal goes to the amplifier.

The earliest electric guitars were very much like acoustic guitars. They had hollow bodies. The companies Gibson and Fender made electric guitars a huge success.

now do this

1 The earliest known word for 'guitar' comes from ...

a. Spanish

b. Latin

c. Greek

2 The first six-string guitar was developed in ...

a. Italy

b. Spain

c. Tuscany

3 Steel-string guitars are also known as ...

a. gut-strings

b. flat-tops

c. classical guitars

Answers on page 11 next Friday

1. c, 2. a, 3. b


March 20
1. c, 2. b, 3. a